Travel agent unresponsive/unreachable for ticket refund

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Nov 22, 2020
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I purchased tickets for travel in April from Boston to Rome and return. Unfortunately, I purchased the tickets on airtickets24.com. The flights were all cancelled by Alitalia and they confirm I am due a refund. They tell me that only the travel agent (e-travel in Athens, Greece) can request the refund. They also state that the travel agent is obligated to assist. The problem is that I can't seem to get a response from anyone. The airtickets24 website now only redirects in French and the phone number I have does not get an answer. I know that there are dozens of sites all owned by Etraveli Group, and this was one of those sites. I have tried contacting Gotogate, which is the name at the bottom of all the different sites, and they claim they cannot find the reservation. I sent a request on airtickets24, even though it is now only in French, and they do not respond. I read somewhere on line that the airline is responsible for making the refund, even if tickets were purchased through a travel agent. Alitalia denies that and insists that only the travel agent can make the refund. I filed an informal complaint with the DOT and have not heard from them. I filed a dispute with my credit card, but they denied it and said the travel agent responded by saying the tickets were non-refundable. This is bs, of course, as the flights were cancelled by Alitalia. I am out over $1100 USD which I am really in desperate need of. I can't understand the travel agent not processing the refund since the airline is holding the money. Can you help?
 
Feb 3, 2017
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To understand rights re: DOT and refunds - you can click on the PDF in this link on their official website (I don't attach such documents here on Elliott.org's website) - The info I believe relates to your situation is #3 on page 2 of the PDF - https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/FAQ_refunds_may_12_2020 - Their language indicates it is the responsibility of the travel agent to provide the refund if booked through an agent/on-line website.

The following language is directly from the Department of Transportation website regarding refunds when a flight is booked through a third-party (on-line booking service, for example) vs. when one books directly with the airline:

"What if I purchased or reserved my ticket through a travel agent or online travel agency? - link to this page with the following language: https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/refunds

  • The refund/reservation requirement for airlines does not apply to tickets booked through online travel agencies, travel agents, or other third-party agents. However, these agents are free to apply the same or similar procedures to provide equivalent or similar customer service.
  • If you purchased your ticket through an online travel agency (or other agent), you should contact the travel agent directly to obtain a refund before contacting the airline."


 
Nov 22, 2020
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To understand rights re: DOT and refunds - you can click on the PDF in this link on their official website (I don't attach such documents here on Elliott.org's website) - The info I believe relates to your situation is #3 on page 2 of the PDF - https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/FAQ_refunds_may_12_2020 - Their language indicates it is the responsibility of the travel agent to provide the refund if booked through an agent/on-line website.

The following language is directly from the Department of Transportation website regarding refunds when a flight is booked through a third-party (on-line booking service, for example) vs. when one books directly with the airline:

"What if I purchased or reserved my ticket through a travel agent or online travel agency? - link to this page with the following language: https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/refunds

  • The refund/reservation requirement for airlines does not apply to tickets booked through online travel agencies, travel agents, or other third-party agents. However, these agents are free to apply the same or similar procedures to provide equivalent or similar customer service.
  • If you purchased your ticket through an online travel agency (or other agent), you should contact the travel agent directly to obtain a refund before contacting the airline."

I understand that the DOT says that, but I read something that the EU regulations are different. At any rate, I simply cannot get a response from the OTA. The only thing I can find in my original purchase confirmation reads that they follow the airlines about refunds. It seems they charge a fee of $35/passenger for support. Since there are no airline penalties, the charge to process the refund should be a maximum of $35/passenger. On their other websites (gotogate, for example), there is a statement that they are limited to a charge of $30 Euros per reservation for airline cancellations. Either way, I am fine with the charge to process the refund. I am still due a net refund of over $1100. Alitalia confirms the refund eligibility and also tells me that nothing has been done to the reservation. In other words, Alitalia still has the funds because the agent has not processed the refund. It seems to me that the agent stands to make money simply by processing the refund. How do I get them to do it?

Support package
1606066483454.gif
BasicTerms and conditions attached
1606066483583.gif Administration fee: US$35.00 per passenger*
1606066483665.gif Response time: Standard
Refund period: Standard
* airline penalties are incurred according to the airline fare rules

Modification or cancellation policy: We can proceed with modification or cancellation of your flight ticket reservation only after you have completed the respective form in our website. All the modifications or cancellations of flight ticket reservations are governed by the rules of the airline company and can be read in the attachment. Apart from the charges incurred by the airline an additional fee is incurred by our company depending on the type of Support package associated with your reservation. For your better service, please contact us in advance for any modifications to your tickets. In order to complete the modification or cancellation request form please click HERE.
 

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Neil Maley

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Ah the drawbacks we are seeing thanks to Covid when consumers didn’t book directly with the airline and use these unknown discount “agencies” (please don’t call them travel agents- they are not).

As Lee said- DOT refund policies don’t apply when you book through a travel agency. The rules are clearly stated on the DOT website. That is because when you use an agency, they may have unpublished rates they use that aren’t refundable under any circumstances.

They have had poor reviews going back several years. Google “complaints about airtickets24”. Plus, it doesn’t appear they are located in the US which makes it harder.

You can put in a request for our researchers and see if they can find company contacts:

 
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Nov 22, 2020
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I travel frequently (not for business, but personal), and I have never encountered a problem before. I never have needed to change my plans, so I always buy the cheapest tickets in order to save money. That is the only way I can afford the vacations I take. I know that I cannot make changes on non-refundable tickets and I accept that risk. This situation is different. I have no problem with paying them an "administrative fee" to process the refund I am due, I just can't get a hold of anyone. If they were out of business, the airline would refund me. Unfortunately, they are not out of business. E-travel S.A. in Athens, Greece is still in business and apparently part of Etraveli Group. I have talked with people at gotogate, all who say they cannot find the reservation. They will not help me find the proper person to talk to. Again, I cannot seem to understand them being unwilling to help me. Since Alitalia holds the money, the OTA would be out very little in processing the refund. In fact, it seems as though they would make money by charging me the previously mentioned fee.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Have you filed a dispute with your credit card for services not rendered? That may be the only way to force them to interact with you.
 
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Nov 22, 2020
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I filed a dispute immediately when they could not be reached. They responded by telling Barclays that they were non-refundable tickets. Barclays denied my dispute based on their response. That is bs since the flights were cancelled. The reservation confirmation from airtickets24 states that they follow the rules and penalties of the airline and that they would charge an administrative fee of $35/passenger for changes. I would be happy to pay that fee in order for them to process the refund.
 
Oct 13, 2015
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Since Alitalia holds the money, the OTA would be out very little in processing the refund. In fact, it seems as though they would make money by charging me the previously mentioned fee.

This sucks and I'd be upset to not get anything back from a flight that the airline cancelled.

I'm having a hard time following your logic about the OTA being out very little in refunding you. Let's say that your plane ticket was $1000 and the OTA's profit margin is 10% and the administrative fee is $250. I didn't sleep well so if I screwed up the math, someone please correct it.

Right now
Alitalia has $900 of your money.
OTA $100

After the OTA refunds you $750 ($1000 minus $250)
Alitalia has $900
OTA -$650
You $750

By refunding you the OTA goes from a $100 profit to a $650 loss. So it would be out a ton if they refund you money that Alitalia hasn't refunded. I'm on your side. I'd be upset too to not get any help from the OTA in resolving this. When you (hopefully) finally reach someone, I'd suggest not using this argument. Really, you shouldn't need any argument at all given that Alitalia cancelled the flight. Also, from what a know Alitalia was difficult to work with before covid so I really wish you luck.
 
Jul 13, 2020
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but I read something that the EU regulations are different
On this they are not different.
I think you should try talking to your credit card again and explain that the airlines have canceled the flight. Show them where Alitalia has stated that they will refund the charge if the OTA applies for it. Since the OTA will not apply for it , Nor can be reached in any way. You might have a chance they will find for you and reverse the charge.
travel agent (e-travel in Athens, Greece)
I would be concerned that the OTA being based in Greece will force you to take a future travel voucher even if the airlines refunds them in cash.
 
Nov 22, 2020
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This sucks and I'd be upset to not get anything back from a flight that the airline cancelled.

I'm having a hard time following your logic about the OTA being out very little in refunding you. Let's say that your plane ticket was $1000 and the OTA's profit margin is 10% and the administrative fee is $250. I didn't sleep well so if I screwed up the math, someone please correct it.

Right now
Alitalia has $900 of your money.
OTA $100

After the OTA refunds you $750 ($1000 minus $250)
Alitalia has $900
OTA -$650
You $750

By refunding you the OTA goes from a $100 profit to a $650 loss. So it would be out a ton if they refund you money that Alitalia hasn't refunded. I'm on your side. I'd be upset too to not get any help from the OTA in resolving this. When you (hopefully) finally reach someone, I'd suggest not using this argument. Really, you shouldn't need any argument at all given that Alitalia cancelled the flight. Also, from what a know Alitalia was difficult to work with before covid so I really wish you luck.
Except that the airline will refund the OTA what they paid...
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
24,743
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www.promalvacations.com
On this they are not different.
I think you should try talking to your credit card again and explain that the airlines have canceled the flight. Show them where Alitalia has stated that they will refund the charge if the OTA applies for it. Since the OTA will not apply for it , Nor can be reached in any way. You might have a chance they will find for you and reverse the charge.

I would be concerned that the OTA being based in Greece will force you to take a future travel voucher even if the airlines refunds them in cash.
And that is a concern because the Greek government put in a law that travel operators fo not have to provide a refund because of this pandemic. They can offer a credit instead.
 
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Nov 22, 2020
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Not necessarily if it was an unpublished fare. If it was an unpublished fare, to there are some that are non refundable under any circumstances.
Alitalia confirms it is eligible for a refund. They tell me that only the agent can initiate the refund.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
This is awful, and thousands of travellers are in your position. From a logical perspective, I think it's helpful to know that a CC issuer may find in your favor, give you back your money and then pursue the merchant. If the merchant can't be found, as appears might be the case here, Barclays has then lost that revenue. That is not good for Barclays, so they're not going to approve your dispute. Strong CC issuers, like American Express and Chase Sapphire, are far more likely to rule on the side of their cardholder. The others are reluctant to take the loss. It's a situation that has cost a great many people a lot of money because they've "done it this way (cheap tix, obscure online booking services) for years" and don't have the usual caution that experienced travellers have. We get posts here occasionally extolling the virtues of online services ... I just shake my head ... because it's all based on past experiences where everything went according to plan. Online services have harmed a great many unwary travellers, many of them will never see their money again. I hope you find some assistance with the link that @smd posted.